After winning 11 straight games in Serie A, Juventus were primed to record a few more milestones at home against visiting Sampdoria. Sinisa Mihaljovic's side showed up at Juventus Stadium motivated to match the hosts in their game and unlike other small teams in Torino before, Sampdoria actually played good football and had plenty of great chances.
After 90 minutes however, Juventus were celebrating their 12th win in a row which set a new Serie A record with 55 points after 20 matchdays. Double goal-scorer Vidal already equaled his previous season-best of 10 goals in Serie A, while Fernando Llorente notched another header to make it 4 in the league this year, matched at the top of this weird statistic with former bianconero Luca Toni.
With a midweek Coppa game against Roma, Conte decided to give Pirlo and Bonucci a rest on the weekend. Ogbonna and Marchisio stepped in for them in our starting lineup. Juve-owned Gabbiadini was the big threat on Sampdoria's team, something everyone expected and were assured of throughout the 90 minutes.
In true Juventus style, despite scoring 4 goals, the game was never completely out of reach for Sampdoria. We started beautifully when in the 18th minute Paul Pogba found Arturo Vidal with a beautiful cutting pass on the counter for the cool Arturo flick and the 1-0 lead. Just 6 minutes later, a corner kick in Sampdoria's area proved the perfect set up for the unmarkable Llorente who doubled Juve's lead with a well placed, Cagliari-deja-vu header in the corner.
Sampdoria were quick to get back to their attacking ways and were able to find the net more so by chance than design. A low cross from the left flank was unfortunately hit in Juve's net by our very own Andrea Barzagli and our lead was halved in a flash. It was crucial to restore the 2 goal lead before half and Arturo Vidal made sure of that, converting a penalty before the halftime whistle which he himself won.
In the second 45 minutes, more drama ensued as Sampdoria pushed for and earned a second goal on the night. After a few great Buffon saves that kept the scoreline at 3-1, a rebound fell at Gabbiadini's feet who converted from short range to make the game 3-2 after a corner kick.
Thankfully, Sampdoria's goal woke Juventus up and Paul Pogba finally put the game beyond reach 10 minutes from time with a lovely shot outside the box. After an entertaining 90 minutes from both sides, the 12th victory in a row was in Conte's bag and officially in the books.
Buffon: 8 - Long shots, close range headers, tricky crosses, dangerous corner kicks. Gigi Buffon seemed threatened by the entire possible Sampdoria repertoire but instead of buckling, he in turn showed his arsenal of fantastic reflex saves. A great game for Gigi and a big thank you for keeping the scoreline where it was throughout the match.
Barzagli: 7 - Effective and impenetrable as always, Barzagli had the most tackles on the night of all defenders. Still, the unfortunate own-goal will leave a sour taste in his mouth.
Ogbonna: 7 - Played with confidence and never made Bonucci feel missed. Is earning a good reputation in everyone's mind as a defender that can step in at any time and be relied upon.
Chiellini: 7 - Gabbiadini gave him and the rest of our team quite the trouble, but Chiellini still put in a very good defensive display. It actually works out that he will miss the next game due to suspension as he will be available for the Inter derby the week after. Do we still call that a derby if Inter is fighting to stay out of relegation though?
Lichtsteiner: 7 - I almost feel generous giving Licht the 7 here since his lack of offensive production was quite evident throughout the game. He did most things right defensively, but he could've been more of a help in attack. Then again, this is usually the criticism that follows him so nothing's too new here I guess.
Vidal: 8.5 - For the umpteenth time, Vidal is the best player on the field, the best goalscorer, and the leader of Juventus. He is in special form this season, making his presence felt in every category possible. A great finish on the first goal, a won and converted penalty, and an overall stand-out performance. I will forgive him the rabona even though Conte never will.
Pogba: 8 - A close second for man of match, Pogba once again shined when Juventus needed him to. Set up the first goal, was really focused on leading Juve's attack in Pirlo's absence, and put the final touch on the game with a spectacular long range finish. His touch did often fail him in the final third which he can clean up and become more effective. One of you mentioned in the comments that the crowd was chanting "We're not selling Pogba" and he apparently pointed at the ground meaning he's staying in Torino. Please oh please be true!
Marchisio: 7.5 - There was no Moyes in the stands scouting him but he still played a great game in the regista role. He's obviously a lot different than Pirlo - he focuses more on defending than creating and used Pogba and Vidal along his side perfectly for the creative set of duties in attack. One really important thing I noticed - that sense of security that is woven within me when I see Marchisio helping out the defense is back. I just have so much more faith in our defensive abilities when he's playing. Even had a few great passes in attack. It's a new role for him this year, but he's finding how to play his best in it. Keep it going Principino!
Asamoah: 7 - Similarly to Lichtsteiner, he could've done more offensively but did well to stretch the field on occasion.
Tevez: 7 - The goals aren't there the way they were earlier in the season and you can sense his frustration on the field. However, this little man is a true fighter and knows when to focus on linking up with Llorente and co and when to go for goal. He unfortunately hit the post in the first half in his best chance on the night. He needs a goal in the next couple games to calm the nerves.
Llorente: 7.5 - Another great header for his 4th goal in just as many games. If Tevez is seeing a bit of a drought, it's because Vidal and Llorente are scoring all the goals. His touch was a bit better I thought, he did well holding up the ball for the majority of the game.
Quagliarella: sv -
Giovinco: sv -
Conte: 7.5 - Managed to keep the winning streak going and to rest Pirlo. Many are criticizing him for the late substitutions but people need to know Conte by know - if he feels the game hasn't been completely won then he's sticking to his starting guns unless someone is exhausted or really botching it.